Lord Carter and the Pig Farm
On Sunday, March 17th 2002, a senior Government Minister, Lord Carter, who advised the Lords as an Agricultural Spokesman and spoke on Animal Welfare was found to have a third ownership in two pig farms consistently flouting animal welfare regulations. The pigs there were illegally kept in sow stalls longer than the period of hours advised, in some cases months, and were kept in units where they were denied water and ventilation. These units, 'sweat boxes', were kept deliberately and illegally hot to speeden the fattening process, causing the death of 60 sows one evening due to heat exhaustion/asphyxiation. Some sick pigs were beaten to death with iron bars, or had their heads swung against a brick wall, according to sworn statements. The response of the RSPCA? A spokesman for the RSPCA confirmed it had been notified of alleged offences last summer but said it took no action after hearing that state vets and council officers had already visited and found nothing wrong.
Some extracts from warmwell.com
Labour peer accused over farm crueltyGerard Tubb, Jonathan Leake and Nicholas Rufford
A SENIOR member of the government is facing calls for his resignation after animals on a farm in which he has a big financial stake were maltreated and abused.
Lord Carter, the government's chief whip in the House of Lords, is part-owner of a Wiltshire farm in which hundreds of animals were allegedly crammed illegally into tiny pens where they had no room to turn around or lie down. Others are said to have died through heat exhaustion and related conditions. Pigs that became ill were sometimes beaten to death by staff with iron bars or had their heads swung against a wall, according to sworn statements from farm workers.
The revelations are embarrassing for a government that has portrayed itself as championing animal welfare. They also come at a sensitive time - another vote is due tomorrow on hunting legislation.
Carter attends cabinet meetings and advises Tony Blair on farming. He was Labour's agriculture spokesman and piloted legislation on protecting farm animals through the Lords. In statements issued through the Cabinet Office and through his solicitors, Carter said government inspectors who visited the farm found no evidence of cruelty. It has now been established that farm inspections were announced in advance, giving staff the opportunity to deceive inspectors and cover up mistreatment of animals. ..... ..
The workers' allegations of maltreatment are supported by David Berkley, a livestock consultant who visited the farm monthly from 1992 until July 2000 to assess the condition of pregnant sows. He recorded in detail how animals remained in the same stall from one month to the next.
"I refused to work for them any more because the conditions on the farm were so awful. Most of the pigs were infested with lice and they were being kept in sow stalls, which is illegal," he said. The same workers also allege that thousands of pigs were kept in "sweat boxes" - concrete enclosures with no bedding and little ventilation designed to keep the animals in sauna-like conditions to make them fatten faster. The boxes were outlawed in 1995.
Donald McDonald-Reade, one of the farm workers, was so shocked by the conditions that he took photographs of heaps of pig corpses. He said in a statement: "The pigs had died from suffocation due to lack of ventilation."
Some sweat boxes were modified to include vents soon after this incident, a change approved by veterinary inspectors. Farm workers say, however, the vents were not always opened.
The farm had supplied Sainsbury until January 1996 when the supermarket cancelled its contract citing "supply problems" after an inspection of the premises. Tesco cancelled its contract in June 2001. In 1998 the company sought accreditation for one of its two piggeries with the government-backed farm assurance scheme which sets out strict welfare standards but it was initially rejected following inspections.
Although it was subsequently admitted, further checks led to its being twice suspended, in July 2000 and February 2001 and then thrown out for good in June 2001. The case has exposed glaring loopholes in laws designed to protect farm animals from cruelty. Council inspectors and government vets inspected the farms on three occasions last year after being tipped off about cruel conditions. Each time they gave farm staff advance warning of up to a day before their visits.
Brodie Wernham, another farm worker, said he was told to change records so it looked as though pigs had only recently been moved into sow stalls. "If you had put a sow in there two months before, you would change the card so it stated she'd only been put in there that morning," he said.
In the same sworn statement Wernham described how sick pigs might be beaten to death, have their throats slit or be swung against a wall, rather than be humanely killed. A report on this subject by Gerard Tubb will be broadcast throughout today on Sky News
March 17 02
Mar 17 ~ "In the same sworn statement Wernham described how sick pigs might be beaten to death, have their throats slit or be swung against a wall, rather than be humanely killed...." on the farm of Labour agriculture spokesman, Lord Carter
"....this is a horrific catalogue of hidden cruelty, which given Lord Carter's knowledge of farming, nothing can excuse." (Sunday Times) Lower House pig farm in Everleigh, Wiltshire, which kept about 35,000 pigs, sytematically maltreated and abused for years, was part-owned by Lord Carter. Lord Carter is a former farm worker. He was made a Labour peer in 1987. Lord Carter attends cabinet meetings and advises Tony Blair on farming. He was Labour's agriculture spokesman and piloted legislation on protecting farm animals through the Lords.
He faces appalled demands for his resignation. He maintains that he knew nothing about the cruelty - even though the farm was eventually excluded from government-backed farm assurance schemes even by Tesco and Sainsbury whose welfare controls are said to be strict but whose inspectors give notice of their arrival. Council inspectors and government vets inspected the farms on three occasions last year after being tipped off about cruel conditions. But - astonishingly - each time they too gave farm staff advance warning of up to a day before their visits. The RSPCA knew about the state of the pigs last summer. It took no action "after hearing that state vets and council officers had already visited and found nothing wrong."
March 20 2002 Sky Report Prompts Investigation
No Inquiry Into Lord's Farms Two days after Sky News revealed the cruelty on Lord Carter's farms a criminal investigation has been launched. We showed how animals were left in tiny pens where they cannot turn round - conditions which have been illegal for years.
Heat stroke Other animals died in concrete sweatboxes - sauna-like hot houses banned because animals die from heat stroke. The farms have been one-third owned for more than 20 years by Government Minister Lord Denis Carter. His share of the farm is now in a trust and his wife is a director of the company.
Statements Wiltshire County Council trading standards officers have confirmed they are gathering statements from some of those who helped in the eleven month-long Sky News investigation. They will also seek a statement from farm vet Andrew Norton, who yesterday said he wanted to speak out to defend himself against allegations from Lord Carter he had given assurances that the farms were not breaking the law.
Meanwhile the RSPCA has called into question claims by Lord Carter that it has cleared his farms of malpractice. They have no records of any visits to his farms over the last three years. The RSPCA says the company should provide details of when their inspectors are supposed to have visited.
Mar 20 ~ Vet Slams Pig Farm Standards, says Sky NewsThe current vet on a farm owned by a senior Government whip has openly criticised animal welfare standards there. Andrew Norton told Sky News he wanted to speak out publicly but was unable to do so because of client confidentiality.
New evidence has also emerged that a vet who had a criminal record for animal cruelty was allowed to keep working at Lord Carter's farm up until 1997.
Graham Wheeler had been suspended from practising for six months and had been involved in a cover up of an RSPCA investigation."
Warmwell comment: Vets convicted for cruelty and cover-ups are suspended for six months?May 30 ~ Lord Carter Is Sacked
As Sky News puts it, "Government chief whip and agriculture spokesman Dennis Carter has been dumped by the Prime Minister two months after Sky News revealed how he made hundreds of thousands of pounds from animal cruelty. ..... thousands of animals in illegal conditions without water. ..... crammed into tiny cages. Others died from the heat in filthy concrete boxes. Carter paid himself hundreds of thousands of pounds from the farms' profits in just three years.
Lord Carter has always maintained that neither he, not his farms, have done anything wrong. After we broadcast these pictures of animal cruelty the Prime Minister was urged to investigate Carter by the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and animal welfare organisations, but he never replied to their letters. Now the minister who was said to enjoy Tony Blair's full support in March has been sacked. .... Carter's farms are the subject of an ongoing criminal inquiry by trading standards officers .... Ministry inspectors have still not explained why his farms were allowed to break the law and why they failed to protect the animals from such chronic abuse. "
May 11 ~ 'Call me a liar if you like' (Mr James Dring said in Court)
An onlooker at the trial reports that James Dring the MAFF vet at the trial of Bobby Waugh (see below) was "very arrogant and he hardly needed to say that. The QC had already tripped him up."
Why would a MAFF vet fail to report low standards? an email recieved this morning:
"I was wondering why a MAFF vet would fail to report low standards of animal welfare. There are dozens of similar cases going back three years. The Lord Carter affair, the one in Scotland (the Scotpigs incident involving "King" Arthur Simmers) and many many others. You could suggest "backhanders" or influence, but that would hardly ring true with Waugh. The stories are all similar - videos of dead pigs, poor hygiene, cannibalism. No action ever taken.
Then it stuck me. I know MAFF were covering up a series of epidemics in the indoor pig herds, presumably for fear of a health scare. What the videos were showing was the effects of illness and, sometimes inadequate efforts to handle the consequences. If they had pressed a prosecution, the balloon might have gone up. The situation that developed at Waugh's meant they had no option but to prosecute."
May 16 ~ How right Hilary is The system STINKS.Dont tell me they aren't all aware of this extraordinary piece of back door legislation. Whitty and Morley alluded to it when they gave their evidence in Strasbourg. Everyone then thought they were talking about the parliament act ..... Those dumb sentient beings with no one to stand up for them. The individual farmers either totally bemused or complacent or relying on someone else to look after their interests. Every organisation like the NFU, Countryside Alliance, RSPCA, RCVS etc etc in some way or another in the pocket of this bunch of rulers. The whole thing was a cross-party fix. The sprinkling of Conservatives, other than those who spoke, did not vote with Lady Mar who fought like a tiger against all the odds and finished with a 16 to 116 imbalance. Whitty shuffled papers and scribbled notes doing all in his power to take absolutely no notice of the proceedings - just preparing himself for his closing speech and chatting with the likes of the 'no case to answer' pig farmer Lord Carter who sat that there with his arms folded and the body language of a street urchin bully boy.
.....There were two strident and vociferous Labour women, one of whom admitted she hadn't read it. ..... She was also adamant that overwhelmingly 'the scientists' agreed that there was a link. She had no papers she quoted nothing to back her statements - BUT SHE AND ALL THE OTHERS IN THE SAME MOULD HAD A VOTE.
See Alicia's full and important message